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  1. #1
    Senior Member jeneralist's Avatar
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    Bike roadside service (aka "AAA for bikes")

    The thread about bike insurance has me wondering if anyone has experience with roadside assistance plans for bikes. Roadside assistance plans for cars are pretty common; in the US, the most common company is AAA (formerly the "American Automobile Association", but now they just use the letters as their name). If you get a flat, they'll send someone out to help you change your tire; if you leave your lights on, they'll jump-start your car, etc. You pay a fixed amount per year, whether you use them or not.

    I've used a similar plan, "Motorcycle Towing Services", when I did frequent motorcycle tours. Came in handy, too -- I have stark memories of getting a tow from the side of Interstate 80 near Dubois, PA one afternoon when the engine wouldn't start and the sky was turning green...

    But these days I'm likelier to spend a week riding my bicycle than I am to be on a motorcycle. I've heard of "Better World Club" -- they do roadside assistance for bicycles (including "towing"), cars, and motorcycles. As a woman who sometimes travels alone far from home, having a number I could call for a lift could be pretty reassuring.

    Does anyone have experience with these guys? Or are there other companies that provide similar support that you could recommend?
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    See video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gv4CrEEg_N4 to see me in the Outrageous Outfit Challenge for the MS Society; or go straight to http://goo.gl/bALZDg to donate

  2. #2
    Senior Member Street Pedaler's Avatar
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    I've never heard of that. At least not in this area. But what an awesome idea!

  3. #3
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    FYI, AAA has lobbied for federal funds to spent on improvements that benefit automobiles as opposed to improvement that benefit cyclists. Something to think about before you give them your money. And personally, I cannot imagine paying someone to change a flat.

  4. #4
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    I remember reading about one program and they did have a limit on how many calls you can make. They may have had exclusions for flats too. I think about total breakdowns far from home with no one to rescue me. I worry about that when doing long rides and try not to be more than 15 miles away from my car or home unless I have a way to have someone rescue me. It is a pita and I certainly would buy into such a program. Anyway, at the present time I have not found a provider in my state. I think the one program I read about was based in Oregon or Washington, but I could be wrong.

  5. #5
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Better World has it.

    I had their roadside bike plan for years, but never actually used it.

    When I retired I went back to basic AAA because it was so much cheaper.
    Old Man Maine

  6. #6
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    So Better Work offers up to 30 miles a year transport. Not impressed. Two service calls a year limit. I could live with that. My big beef is with the distance given that I ride rural roads.

    I"ll think about it. Forty dollars a year. Twelve dollar sign up.

    I wonder how long it would take them to rescue me in northern Minnesota?

  7. #7
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post

    So Better Work offers up to 30 miles a year transport. Not impressed. Two service calls a year limit. I could live with that. My big beef is with the distance given that I ride rural roads.

    I"ll think about it. Forty dollars a year. Twelve dollar sign up.

    I wonder how long it would take them to rescue me in northern Minnesota?
    Check to see if it's even available there.
    Old Man Maine

  8. #8
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    I have a brochure on this that I picked up from a company last year when I was at organized ride. I will try to find it. I talked with them for a while and it sounded great.

  9. #9
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    It would seem like a good business opportunity for Bike Shops in general. IMO, it could be a small nominal fee to call an 800 number and then refer to a LBS in the area for whatever service is needed from flat tires on up, with, perhaps a standard rate for the service.

    Even if not a national service, this could be a good business opportunity for a LBS that might offer, say, service within a half hour or hour within, say, a 10 or 15 mile radius of the store for a standard fee. (the distance might depend on whether the store is in an urban, suburban, or rural area). And in return for piece of mind, the customer would pay some standard annual fee of, maybe $40 or $50 per year?

  10. #10
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    ... And personally, I cannot imagine paying someone to change a flat.
    If flats were the only problem that could ruin your ride, this would be a good point. Are you prepared for a busted spoke, 20 miles from the car and 150 miles from home?

    Where I live, the best places to ride don't have cell phone coverage, so it's a moot point. But it's still a good idea.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  11. #11
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    If flats were the only problem that could ruin your ride, this would be a good point. Are you prepared for a busted spoke, 20 miles from the car and 150 miles from home?

    Where I live, the best places to ride don't have cell phone coverage, so it's a moot point. But it's still a good idea.
    Exactly right. You can't anticipate every mechanical problem. I imagine flats would make up 50 to 75% of all service calls, but so what? AAA gets calls to fix car tire flats, despite the fact that people should know how to change a tire on a car.

  12. #12
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    I know how to change a tire on my car but it doesn't mean I want to get all grubby doing it. When I'm dressed up all purty, I just call AAA and let them deal with it.

  13. #13
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
    I know how to change a tire on my car but it doesn't mean I want to get all grubby doing it. When I'm dressed up all purty, I just call AAA and let them deal with it.
    Changing a tire on a bike in the middle of a long ride can be just as much of a drag.

  14. #14
    Just Keep Pedaling Beachgrad05's Avatar
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    The insurance company I was looking at has roadside assistance among its' offerings:

    http://spokeinsurance.com/
    http://www.tofighthiv.org/site/TR/Events/AIDSLifeCycleCenter?px=2914622&pg=personal&fr_id=1770

  15. #15
    internettubes engineer st3venb's Avatar
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    Having been a member of the broken spoke club.. I'd pay for a service that could help me fix the spoke, or give me a ride home as I often break them when I'm very far from home.

    This sounds like a good idea...

  16. #16
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    I'd be interested in a service that would transport my bike and me to someplace reasonable if I ran into something I couldn't handle. By reasonable, I mean a place where I could lock the bike up securely until I could get back and fix it, and where there was access to some kind of public transportation (even a taxi).

    I do carry an emergency set of tools, and I've handled everything from emergency wheel adjustments (I don't actually carry spokes, but I have a spoke wrench that I've used to get the wheel back into good enough shape to ride home), to chain repair, general tightening up and adjusting of things, and, of course, fixing flats. But if I ran into something I couldn't fix, I'd love to think there was someone I could call to get me to a place where I could get myself home and go back with my car.

    I had to fix a flat yesterday in the near 90 degree heat ... That sucked. But I don't think that's the sort of thing I'd call someone for.
    L'asino di Buridano...

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by tony_merlino View Post
    I'd be interested in a service that would transport my bike and me to someplace reasonable if I ran into something I couldn't handle. By reasonable, I mean a place where I could lock the bike up securely until I could get back and fix it, and where there was access to some kind of public transportation (even a taxi).

    I do carry an emergency set of tools, and I've handled everything from emergency wheel adjustments (I don't actually carry spokes, but I have a spoke wrench that I've used to get the wheel back into good enough shape to ride home), to chain repair, general tightening up and adjusting of things, and, of course, fixing flats. But if I ran into something I couldn't fix, I'd love to think there was someone I could call to get me to a place where I could get myself home and go back with my car.

    I had to fix a flat yesterday in the near 90 degree heat ... That sucked. But I don't think that's the sort of thing I'd call someone for.
    Did you find some shade?

  18. #18
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
    Did you find some shade?
    Yes, thanks, I did - a small cherry tree, but big enough to give me a little space to work in. And it didn't take very long to change. This is a new rear wheel, and it's really easy to get tires on/off it. If it had been the front, I'd probably still be out there... (The front wheel is the original from the 1970s, and it seems that rim is every so slightly bigger, which makes getting the tire back on a real PITA).
    L'asino di Buridano...

  19. #19
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tony_merlino View Post
    I'd be interested in a service that would transport my bike and me to someplace reasonable if I ran into something I couldn't handle. By reasonable, I mean a place where I could lock the bike up securely until I could get back and fix it, and where there was access to some kind of public transportation (even a taxi).
    On that note, I'd love a shuttle service.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  20. #20
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beachgrad05 View Post
    The insurance company I was looking at has roadside assistance among its' offerings:

    http://spokeinsurance.com/
    Currently they are offering their products in Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Hawaii. 25 mile transport limit per occurrence.

    Last edited by goldfinch; 05-29-12 at 02:25 PM.

  21. #21
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by late View Post
    Check to see if it's even available there.
    Here is what the Better Work website says about availability:

    "We are currently quoting in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington DC, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa , Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
    Waiting List:

    We're always in the process of upgrading our insurance offerings. In order to do so (it involves a new, more price competitive underwriter), we have been forced to temporarily suspend quotes in a number of states. If you do not reside in one of the states listed above, we appreciate your interest and hope you'll check back with us again soon. You can also send us an email and ask to be notified when our insurance services are offered in your state."

    The general info on their product:
    http://www.betterworldclub.com/bicyc...assistance.cfm

  22. #22
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Googling about, it looks like AAA has offered roadside assistance for bikes in Oregon and Idaho for the past two or three years: http://www.livestrong.com/article/41...nce-for-bikes/

    Not sure on whether they have expanded it. Maybe to South Jersey anyway. Not to my part of MInnesota though. http://southjersey.aaa.com/RoadsideA...BicycleProgram

    15 mile transport limit per occurrence, it looks like.
    Last edited by goldfinch; 05-29-12 at 02:26 PM.

  23. #23
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    If flats were the only problem that could ruin your ride, this would be a good point. Are you prepared for a busted spoke, 20 miles from the car and 150 miles from home?

    Where I live, the best places to ride don't have cell phone coverage, so it's a moot point. But it's still a good idea.
    FiberFix spoke, spoke wrench in my fix kit. Unless it broke, jammed up, and threw me, I'm probably set. But I'm one of the rare ones in a case like that, I'm guessing. Having ridden with the Seattle Randos for a few years, I'm a belt-and-suspenders kinda guy when it comes to repairs and equipment. Comes in oddly handy carrying around all this weird shiz-naz...
    At the Tour de Cure this year, a woman wiped out on a patch of gravel in a downhill turn. I stopped to see what was going on, her teammate had already called for the SAG Wagon, but her shorts were shredded down one side in the back where she slid on the asphalt. RandoMan to the rescue! I lent her the space blanket I keep in a pocket of my Carradice Pendle, and she was most appreciative to not be flashing everyone any longer.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    If flats were the only problem that could ruin your ride, this would be a good point. Are you prepared for a busted spoke, 20 miles from the car and 150 miles from home?
    Yes. I squeeze the brake lever on the affected wheel a little to take pressure of the corresponding brake release, push the release button with my thumb, release the brake lever, and finish my ride without rubbing.

    After I get where I'm going I take the black Park spoke wrench off my key chain and true the wheel so I can close the brake release and have my brake lever in its normal position.

    I can handle a broken chain (about once every 10 years I need to use my chain tool), shifter or cable too.
    Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 05-29-12 at 04:55 PM.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    I was riding to work once and my free-hub seized up, locking the rear wheel, and shaving the tire down to almost nothing. How would you fix that without help, on the road? (I locked it to the nearest safe post, took a cab home, and drove to work.)

    Problems that can come up are like bikes; they follow the N+1 rule, with N being the number of problems you're prepared to solve. I swear to god Murphy's law plays into it, too - you won't get as many flats if you have a spare tube, but that will just make the bike gods find other ways to taunt you.

    What I'd really like is a shuttle service. I want to do some rides that are too long to take as a round trip, and, believe it or not, most of my friends have better things to do than drive me around. If I could get someone to drop me off with my bike in Winthrop, and meet me at Diablo Lake, or move my car there, it would be the cat's ass.
    Don't believe everything you think.

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